Bognor emerged victorious in their first Hampshire League division-one match of 2015, securing all five points on offer against a mature Farnborough side 24-13.
The previous week’s cup tie at Hellingly was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch and despite heavy rainfall on Saturday, Hampshire Avenue held up well – a huge credit to the efforts of the many BRFC members who organised significant investment in the pitches over the summer to improve drainage.
The first team were thrilled to be back playing with many of those on the pre-Christmas injury list now fully fit. Nathan Archer started at outside centre while young Doug Lewis earned a starting place in the front row after a try-scoring performance at Petersfield.
Bognor aimed to move the Farnborough pack around the pitch and did so through patient and mobile phase play but they were left frustrated by some poor decision making when try-scoring opportunities were earned.
Eventually they managed to breach the Farnborough defence. A charge down by hooker Mark Ubsdell allowed Bognor to regain possession in Farnborough territory. Quick ball allowed James Barlow to rumble down the blindside and come agonisingly close to his first try in nearly a year.
The ball was recycled and an offload from the evergreen Karl Flinn allowed Josh Burgess to barge his way over for an unconverted try.
Bognor regained the urgency and pace that had been lacking in the first 20 minutes. Returning skipper Jack Tompkins gathered the restart and sold a quite ridiculous dummy and surged 60 metres up the pitch. He found Flinn with an offload in support and the move carried on, only for a knock-on to prevent the try.
Farnborough gathered the loose ball and attempted a breakout but when the ball was spread wide their full-back was blindsided by a big tackle. The ball was hacked on and Bognor this time made the most of their field position.
Ben Archer, in his penultimate game before his move to Bristol, spotted space on the short side. He timed his pass perfectly to find man-of-the-match Mark Ubsdell’s superb running angle, and he steamed under the posts unopposed for a converted try.
Bognor made a mistake from the kick-off and conceded a penalty right in front of their posts. The half ended 12-3 to Bognor.
The second half continued in the same vein as the first for Bognor. In parts they put together excellent, structured rugby – but were let down by poor handling and decision-making.
Burgess grabbed his second try after the Bognor pack battered their way to a metre short of the Farnborough line. Flinn was again instrumental in offloading to Burgess for the scoring pass – Archer converted.
Changes were made as Harry Dyer, returning from an unfortunate volleyball injury, replaced Flinn and former decathlete Shane Stevens made way for Connor Satturley.
Again, Bognor took the restart and went to play with tempo, earning a penalty and lineout in Farnborough territory. Ubsdell threw to Barlow and Bulgarian Venci Angelov smashed forward with the ball.
Mitch Brock isolated his man and burst up field leaving four defenders in his wake. He found Nathan Archer with an offload and he could have powered under the posts but instead elected to pass. A queue of potential try-scorers waited outside but the ball was knocked on.
Bognor earned a penalty from the ensuing scrum, which Harry Dyer took quickly. His chest pass to Tompkins allowed Ubsdell to receive the final pass, barreling over his opposite number for his second try.
Farnborough did grab a score of their own after some pressure on the Bognor line, although there was a question over whether the ball was knocked on.
This week, Bognor entertain Alton at Hampshire Avenue hoping to retain their unbeaten home record. Kick-off is at 2.15pm and all support is welcome with another lively league luncheon planned before the game.
BOGNOR: Angelov, Ubsdell, Rugby, Masters, Barlow, Page, Tompkins, Flinn, Hornibrook, B Archer, Stevens, Burgess, N Archer, M Brock, Riggall. Langridge, Dyer, Satturley.